December 2019
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Digital India Initiatives

India moves up 8 spots in e-payments adoption rankingIOCRPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking

Mains level: India’s progress in facilitating cashless transactions.


Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking

  1. Visa, a global leader in payments technology has announced that India ranked 28th among 73 countries in the 2018 Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking (GEAR) study.
  2. The 2018 GEAR, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global Index and benchmarking study commissioned by Visa, ranks governments by quantifying their e-payment capabilities based on various indicators.
  3. This is up from 36th rank in 2011, reinforcing the country’s progress towards digital transformation.
  4. This is the third edition of the study after those in 2007 and 2011.

India’s Progress

  1. Insights from this study will help India to build infrastructure and deploy electronic payment products and services.
  2. India leads the Business to Government category, along with Australia, Singapore and South Korea.
  3. The category refers to the ease with which businesses can calculate and make their tax payments, register and renew their registrations online and digitally calculate their pension fund contributions, thereby making those payments on a periodic basis.
  4. At the same time, by simplifying refund and loan application processes, businesses can track status digitally.
  5. Again coupled with dedicated digital portals to submit proposals for government procurement services, India leads the Government to Business category as well.
International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Japan drops new robot on asteroidIOCRPrelims Only


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hayabusa2 Probe, MASCOT

Mains level: Missions to study Asteroids



  1. The Hayabusa2 probe launched the French-German Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or MASCOT towards the Ryugu asteroid’s surface.
  2. The 10-kg box-shaped MASCOT is loaded with sensors.
  3. It can take images at multiple wavelengths, investigate minerals with a microscope, gauge surface temperatures and measure magnetic fields.
  4. The MASCOT got separated from the spacecraft as planned and got safely landed

Hayabusa2 Probe

  1. A Japanese probe launched a new observation robot towards an asteroid as it pursues a mission to shed light on the origins of the solar system.
  2. The Hayabusa2 is scheduled later this month to deploy an “impactor” that will explode above the asteroid, shooting a two-kilo copper object into it to blast a small crater on the surface.
  3. The probe will then hovers over the artificial crater and collect samples using an extended arm.

First Robot to land on Asteroid

  1. MASCOT’s launch comes 10 days after the Hayabusa2 dropped a pair of MINERVA-II micro-rovers on the Ryugu asteroid.
  2. It was the first time that moving, robotic observation device have been successfully landed on an asteroid.
  3. The rovers will take advantage of Ryugu’s low gravity to jump around on the surface travelling as far as 15 metres while airborne and staying in the air for as long as 15 minutes.
  4. It is aimed to survey the asteroid’s physical features with cameras and sensors.
  5. Unlike those machines, MASCOT will be largely immobile it will “jump” just once on its mission, and it can turn on its sides.
  6. The MASCOT has a maximum battery life of just 16 hours, and will transmit the data it collects to the Hayabusa2 before running out of power.
Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Toilet-for-all: WHO calls for more investmentIOCR


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Particulars of the guidelines

Mains level: Need for investments on Sanitation


First Global Guidelines on Sanitation and Health

  1. In its first such guidelines, the WHO warned that world will not reach the goal of universal sanitation coverage by 2030 unless countries make comprehensive policy shifts and invest more funds.
  2. By adopting these new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce the diarrheal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene.
  3. WHO developed the new guidelines because current sanitation programmes are not achieving anticipated health gains.
  4. There is a lack of authoritative health-based guidance on sanitation.

Four Principal Recommendations

  1. Sanitation interventions should ensure entire communities have access to toilets that safely contain excreta.
  2. The full sanitation system should be undergo local health risk assessments to protect individuals and communities from exposure to excreta – whether this be from unsafe toilets, leaking storage or inadequate treatment.
  3. Sanitation should be integrated into regular local government-led planning and service provision to avert the higher costs associated with retrofitting sanitation and to ensure sustainability.
  4. The health sector should invest more and play a coordinating role in sanitation planning to protect public health.

Why invest more on Sanitation?

  1. Poor sanitation is a major factor in transmission of neglected tropical diseases.
  2. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, WHO estimates a nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths.
  3. Worldwide, 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation with almost half forced to defecate in the open.
  4. They are among the 4.5 billion without access to safely managed sanitation services.

Geological Survey chooses heritage locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka for UNESCO site statusIOCRPrelims Only



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Geoparks Network

Mains level: Not Much



  • In a first, an ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra and a hexagonal mosaic of basaltic rocks in an island off Udupi are set to become global geoparks, under a Geological Survey of India (GSI) plan.
  • Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka are the GSI’s candidates for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status.

Requirements of Global Geoparks

  1. An aspiring Global Geopark must have a dedicated website, a corporate identity, comprehensive management plan, protection plans, finance, and partnerships for it to be accepted.
  2. The Geopark tag is akin to that of a ‘World Heritage Site’ for historical monuments that can bring India’s famed geological features to the global stage.
  3. Lonar lake is the only known meteorite crater in basaltic rock and is world famous, while St. Mary’s island is a unique phenomenon that has been preserved well.
  4. Mary’s Island, declared a national geo-heritage site in 1975, is estimated to be an 88-million-year-old formation that goes back to a time when Greater India broke away from Madagascar.


Global Geoparks Network

  1. The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a UNESCO assisted network established in 1998.
  2. The GGN works in close synergy with another project under UNESCO’s Ecological and Earth Sciences Division—the Man and Biosphere (MAB) World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
  3. A set of criteria as established by UNESCO must first be met for a geopark, as nominated by the corresponding government, to be included in the GGN:
  • the existence of a management plan designed to foster socio-economic development that is sustainable (most likely to be based on agritourism and geotourism);
  • demonstrate methods for conserving and enhancing geological heritage and provide means for teaching geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues;
  • joint-proposals submitted by public authorities, local communities and private interests acting together, which demonstrate the best practices with respect to Earth heritage conservation and its integration into sustainable development strategies.
Solar Energy – JNNSM, Solar Cities, Solar Pumps, etc.

[pib] PM inaugurates first assembly of the International Solar AllianceIOCRPIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: International Solar Alliance, IORA, RE-INVEST

Mains level: India’s initiatives for transition towards Renewable Energy



  • The PM today inaugurated the first Assembly of the International Solar Alliance.
  • The same event also marked the inauguration of the second IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial Meeting, and the 2nd Global RE-Invest (Renewable Energy Investors’ Meet and Expo).

Highlights of the ISA Assembly

  1. The target is to generate 40 percent of India’s total energy requirements in 2030, by non fossil fuel based sources.
  2. PM Modi emphasized that if the dream of “One World, One Sun and One Grid” is followed, uninterrupted power supply can be ensured.
  3. He announced plans to launch a National Energy Storage Mission that will look at manufacturing, deployment, technology development and policy framework.
  4. The first Assembly will lay the foundation for global Solar Agenda.
  5. The Assembly will adjudicate upon various administrative, financial and programme related issues.


  1. The Indian Ocean Rim Association was set up with the objective of strengthening regional cooperation and sustainable development within the Indian Ocean Region with 21 Member States and 7 Dialogue Partners.
  2. India is hosting 2nd IORA Renewable Energy Ministerial meet.
  3. In this meeting, Ministers from 9 member countries and delegates from all 21 member countries are expected to participate.
  4. India, Australia, Iran, Indonesia Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Singapore, Mauritius, Madagascar, UAE, Yemen, Seychelles, Somalia, Comoros and Oman are members of IORA.


  1. RE-Invest is a global platform to explore strategies for development and deployment of renewables.
  2. It showcases India’s green energy market and the Government’s efforts to scale up capacity to meet the national energy demand in socially, economically and ecologically sustainable ways.
  3. The 2nd RE-INVEST aims at accelerating the worldwide effort to scale up renewable energy and connect the global investment community with Indian energy stakeholders.
  4. The 2nd RE-INVEST will provide a great opportunity to various countries, states, business houses & organisations to showcase their business strategies, achievements and expectations.
  5. It would facilitate collaboration and cooperation with key stakeholders in India, which has today emerged as one of the world’s largest renewable energy markets.

RE Status of India

  1. Globally, India stands 5th in renewable power, 4th in wind power and 5th in solar power installed capacity.
  2. Renewable energy development and deployment has received proactive policy support, including 100% foreign investment.
  3. The Government of India is aiming to exceed the set target of 175 GW renewable energy capacity by 2022.
WTO and India

WTO, IMF, World Bank seek ‘urgent’ international trade reformsIOCR


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WTO

Mains level: Decline of WTO regime in global trade and prospects for India


Joint report raises concerns

  1. The World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank had issued an emergency call to reform the multilateral trading system as the US retreats from prior agreements.
  2. The slow pace of reforms since the early 2000s, fundamental changes in a more interconnected modern economy and the risk of trade policy reversals call for urgency to re-energize trade policy reforms.

American arrogance on rise

  1. US has harshly criticized globalism in general and questioned America’s participation in multilateral institutions like the WTO during the UNGA meeting.
  2. The fallout from the escalating US-China trade conflict led the WTO to cut its trade growth forecast.
  3. WTO also warned that a full-blown trade war would knock around 17% off global trade growth, and 1.9% off GDP growth.

Focus on E-commerce

  1. The WTO, IMF and World Bank jointly called for new rules to address the expanding role of electronic commerce along with investment and services trade in the 21st century.
  2. The opportunities provided by information technology and other fundamental changes in the global economy are yet to be reflected in modern areas of trade policy.
  3. The three institutions also advocated the more so-called use of plurilateral talks to help unblock trade negotiations that have failed to advance at the multilateral level.

Emphasis on Plurilateral Accords

  1. Plurilateral accords are deals negotiated among a group of like-minded members that are limited to certain sectors of goods or services.
  2. Such agreements are typically easier and faster to negotiate than multilateral accords, which require a consensus among the WTO’s 164 members.

Revitalizing the Dispute Settlement Mechanism

  1. The joint report urged WTO members to work together to fix the impasse in the WTO dispute settlement system, which risks paralysis due to the Trump administration’s refusal to appoint appellate body members.
  2. Over the past year the US has cited a pattern of judicial overreach at the WTO and has blocked the appointment of experts to the appellate body, which has the final say in WTO dispute rulings.
  3. If the US continues to oppose new appointments to the panel beyond December 2019, the body will not have enough panelists to sign off on rulings.
  4. The WTO will lack the ability to fully adjudicate trade disputes involving the world’s largest companies.

Try to collect  few points for:

What are the key areas of reform if the WTO has to survive in the present context of ‘Trade War’, especially keeping in mind the interest of India? (15) (CSE Mains, 2018)

Internal Security Trends and Incidents

Initiative to stop terrorist travel launched on UNGA sidelinesIOCR


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mandate of the GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative

Mains level: Cross-border terrorism and ways to control it.



  • The United States and Morocco launched the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Terrorist Travel Initiative.
  • The initiative brings together stakeholders to share expertise on how to develop and implement effective counterterrorism, watchlisting and screening tools.

GCTF Terrorist Travel Initiative

  1. The initiative was announced on the sidelines of a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
  2. The program will be run by the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), a multilateral organization founded in 2011 by the European Union and 29 nations, including the United States and Russia.
  3. Reinforcing Resolution 2396, which was unanimously adopted by the Security Council in December 2017, the initiative will reinforce methods for countries and organisations to stop terrorist travel.
  4. Terrorist travel is being curbed at the moment through Advanced Passenger Information (API), Passenger Name Record (PNR), and biometrics that have been prescribed in Resolution 2396.
  5. The initiative will convene a series of four regional workshops in 2018 and 2019 to develop recommendations, to be endorsed by a GCTF ministerial in 2019, according to the release.


Global Counterterrorism Forum

  1. The Global Counter-terrorism Forum is an informal, apolitical, multilateral counter-terrorism (CT) platform that was launched officially in New York on 22 September 2011.
  2. The GCTF’s mission is to diminish terrorist recruitment and increase countries’ civilian capabilities for dealing with terrorist threats within their borders and regions.
  3. The Forum works with partners around the globe to identify critical civilian needs to effectively counter terrorism, mobilize the necessary expertise and resources to address such needs, and enhance global CT cooperation.
  4. One of the key goals of the GCTF is to support and catalyze implementation of the United Nations (UN) Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.
  5. In pursuance of this goal, the GCTF works closely with UN bodies and with other relevant international and regional organizations, to reinforce, complement, and support multilateral CT and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts.
  6. The GCTF’s Coordinating Committee, which meets twice per year and provides strategic guidance on how best to address the evolving terrorist threat.
  7. Both India and Pakistan are founding members of this forum.
Swachh Bharat Mission

[pib] Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation ConventionIOCRPIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  MGISC

Mains level: Nearing success of SBM-Rural.



  1.  116 foreign delegates including sanitation ministers visited select sites related to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi on the “Gandhi Trail”.
  2. The “Gandhi Trail” is a trip to Gujarat, where the delegates will visit the Sabarmati Ashram and see Swachh Bharat at work on the ground in Punsari village.

Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention

  1. The President has inaugurated the MGISC organised by the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry to mark the beginning of the 150thbirth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi.
  2. The MGISC is a four-day convention which includes more than 160 international representatives from 68 countries.
  3. It aims to share sanitation success stories and lessons from the participating countries.

 Reality Check on ODF status

  1. India is close to becoming open defecation free.
  2. The rural sanitation coverage of India has increased significantly, from 39% in October 2014 to 94.44% as of 30 September 2018.
  3. Nearly 86.5 million household toilets have been constructed under the Mission.
  4. 25 States/Union Territories, 509 districts, and 500,000 villages have declared themselves free from open defecation.
  5. The number of people practicing open defecation in rural India has gone down from 550 million in 2014, to less than 150 million till date.
NITI Aayog’s Assessment

[pib] India and the UN to sign a Five-Year Sustainable Development Framework (2018-2022)IOCRPIBPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSDF

Mains level: Sustainable development agenda of NITI Aayog.



  • NITI Aayog and United Nations are set to sign the Government of India-United Nations Sustainable Development Framework (UNSDF) for 2018-2022.

India-UNSDF (2018-2022)

  1. The Framework outlines the work of UN agencies in India, to support the achievement of key development outcomes that are aligned to the national priorities.
  2. The NITI Aayog is the national counterpart for the UN in India for the operationalization of the UNSDF.
  3. Nineteen (19) UN agencies have signed on the UNSDF 2018-2022.

About United Nations Sustainable Development Framework

  1. The UNSDF 2018-22 comprises of seven priority areas that outline the work that UN agencies will undertake jointly or individually, fully aligned with the priorities of the GoI.
  2. The seven priority areas outlined in the UNSDF are:
  • Poverty and Urbanization;
  • Health, Water, and Sanitation;
  • Education and Employability;
  • Nutrition and Food Security;
  • Climate Change, Clean Energy, and Disaster Resilience;
  • Skilling, Entrepreneurship, and Job Creation;
  • Gender Equality and Youth Development.


Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

PM Modi gets UN’s ‘Champions of the Earth’ awardIOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ISA

Mains level: Achievements of ISA



‘Champions of the Earth’ Award

  1. Our PM Narendra Modi has been awarded with the UN’s highest environmental honour for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single use plastic in India by 2022.
  2. Six of the world’s most outstanding environmental changemakers have been recognised with the UN’s highest environmental honour.
  3. The laureates are recognised for a combination of bold, innovative, and tireless efforts to tackle some of the most urgent environmental issues of our times.

Pioneering Work

  1. French President Mr. Macron and PM Modi have been jointly recognised in the Policy Leadership category for their pioneering work in championing the International Solar Alliance.
  2. They have been promoting new areas of cooperation on environmental action, including Macron’s work on the Global Pact for the Environment and Modi’s unprecedented pledge to eliminate all single-use plastic in India by 2022.

Other details

  • Cochin International Airport has also been honoured this year with the award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for its leadership in the use of sustainable energy.


Champions of the Earth

  1. The United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) established Champions of the Earth in 2005 as an annual awards programme to recognize outstanding environmental leaders from the public and private sectors, and from civil society.
  2. Typically, five to seven laureates are selected annually.
  3. Each laureate is invited to an award ceremony to receive a trophy, give an acceptance speech and take part in a press conference.
  4. No financial awards are conferred.
  5. This awards programme is a successor to UNEP’s Global 500 Roll of Honour.

India ranks 158th in ‘human capital’ scoreIOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Rankings

Mains level: The newscard highlights India’s low human capital development despite of fastest economic growth.


The Lancet Report on Human Capital

  1. The study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the request of the World Bank, is the first of its kind to measure and compare the strength of countries’ “human capital”.
  2. The study underscores that when a country’s human capital score increases, its economy grows.
  3. The study, published in journal The Lancet, says that India is ranked at 158 out of 195 countries in 2016, an improvement from its position of 162 in 1990.
  4. It showed that India is falling behind in terms of health and education of its workforce, which could potentially have long-term negative effects on the Indian economy.
  5. The study is based on analysis of data from sources, including government agencies, schools, and health care systems.

Details of the Ranking

  1. The study places Finland at the top.
  2. India ranks 158th in the world for its investments in education and health care, according to the first-ever scientific study ranking countries for their levels of human capital.
  3. The nation is placed behind Sudan (ranked 157th) and ahead of Namibia (ranked 159th) in the list.
  4. The U.S. is ranked 27th, while China is at 44th and Pakistan at 164th.
  5. South Asian countries ranking below India in this report include Pakistan (164), Bangladesh (161) and Afghanistan (188).
  6. Countries in the region that have fared better than India in terms of human capital include Sri Lanka (102), Nepal (156), Bhutan (133) and Maldives (116).

Effects of stimulating economy

  1. The findings show the association between investments in education and health and improved human capital and GDP which policy-makers ignore at their own peril.
  2. As the world economy grows increasingly dependent on digital technology, human capital grows increasingly important for stimulating local and national economies.
  3. Components measured in the functional health score include stunting, wasting, anaemia, cognitive impairments, hearing and vision loss, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in UN Global Media CompactIOCRPrelims Only


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UN Global Media Compact

Mains level: International media cooperation for awareness of SDGs.



  • The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is among more than 30 organisations from across the world that has come together to form a global media compact aimed at advancing awareness of the SDGs.

UN Global Media Compact for SDGs

  1. The Compact is an initiative of the United Nations, in collaboration with the UN Foundation.
  2. It is an initiative marking a new drive to advance awareness of the SDGs that were unanimously adopted by all world leaders at the United Nations in 2015.
  3. It is an alliance of news and entertainment media and it is committing to work with the United Nations to foster public discourse and spur action on the SDGs.
  4. It seeks to inspire media and entertainment companies around the world to leverage their resources and creative talent to advance the Goals.
  5. India’s ministry of information and broadcasting is among more than 30 founding compact members.

Towards Agenda 2030

  1. By telling stories, news and entertainment media have a critical role in multiplying messages and propagating new ways of behaving.
  2. As major players in fostering the SDG discourse, they are also key in holding governments accountable.
  3. This compact is inclusive and aims to embrace media companies from all regions and all platforms.
  4. Participating organizations will have the opportunity to create content partnerships with the UN to increase their efforts to source and share high-value media content and newsworthy opportunities relating to the SDGs.
US policy wise : Visa, Free Trade and WTO

India to focus on climate change, South-South cooperation at U.N.IOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: G-4, UNGA

Mains level: Issues related to the UN after US defiance of several UN bodies.


73rd UNGA meet

  • External Affairs Minister has kicked off her week-long diplomatic engagements at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Highlights of the Assembly

  1. The 73rd UNGA is taking place against the backdrop of increased American hostility towards the world body in particular and multilateralism in general.
  2. US believe that multilateral global bodies and treaties function to the detriment and at its cost.
  3. The U.S has reduced its funding for the U.N. and either withdrawn or threatened to withdraw from several U.N. bodies under the Trump presidency.
  4. Trump is, however, seeking more support for his combative stance against Iran, from member countries.

Addressing leadership vacuum at UN

  1. With America rolling back its interest in global security and development, under the Trump administration, the Security Council’s prominence has diminished.
  2. While America is on retreat, no other country is stepping up to fill the leadership vacuum in the U.N.

India’s focus

  1. The EAM’s meetings will focus on issues such as climate change, digital infrastructure, and sustainability and South- South cooperation.
  2. These are areas that India has interests and expertise in.
  3. India will discuss strengthening cooperation in areas of commerce, pharma, cybersecurity, defence and culture.


G4 Nations

  1. The G4 nations comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan are four countries which support each other’s bids for permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council.
  2. Unlike the G7, where the common denominator is the economy and long-term political motives, the G4’s primary aim is the permanent member seats on the Security Council.
  3. Each of these four countries have figured among the elected non-permanent members of the council since the UN’s establishment.
  4. Their economic and political influence has grown significantly in the last decades, reaching a scope comparable to the permanent members (P5).
  5. However, the G4’s bids are often opposed by the Uniting for Consensus movement, and particularly their economic competitors or political rivals.
Poverty Eradication – Definition, Debates, etc.

UNDP report lauds India’s strides in reducing poverty in past decadeIOCRPriority 1


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Poverty & development issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Multidimensional Poverty Index

Mains level: India’s efforts in reducing poverty and their outcomes


Multidimensional Poverty Index 2018

  1. In the decade between 2005-06 and 2015-16, India has halved its Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) from 54.7 per cent to 27.5 per cent
  2. According to MPI 2018 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, there are 271 million fewer poor people in India in this period

Findings of the report

  1. 364 million Indians continue to experience acute deprivations in health, nutrition, schooling and sanitation
  2. About 196 million MPI poor people in India, accounting for more than half of all multidimensionally poor in India, live in the four states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh
  3. Just over one in four multidimensionally poor people in India are under ten years of age
  4. Traditionally disadvantaged groups, in terms of castes, religions etc, continue to be the poorest though they have experienced the biggest decadal reduction in MPI

About Multidimensional Poverty Index

  1. The MPI measures multiple deprivations in the same households in education, health and living standards and 10 indicators, namely nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, sanitation, cooking fuel, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets
  2. Those found to face deprivations in at least a third of the MPI’s components are multidimensionally poor
OBOR Initiative

Who is at risk from China’s Belt and Road Initiative debt trap?IOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OBOR, Paris Club

Mains level:  Concerns raised by Belt and Road Initiative of China


Uncertainty over China’s grace

  1. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which seeks to invest about $8 trillion in infrastructure projects across Asia, Europe and Africa has come under intense scrutiny.
  2. A study by the Centre for Global Development, a Washington-based think tank, analyses one important consequence of BRI: debt.
  3. The study finds that it is unlikely that the BRI is likely to raise the risk of a sovereign debt default among relatively small and poor countries.

What is Sovereign Debt?

  1. Sovereign debt is a central government’s debt.
  2. It is debt issued by the national government in a foreign currency in order to finance the issuing country’s growth and development.
  3. The stability of the issuing government can be provided by the country’s sovereign credit ratings which help investors weigh risks when assessing sovereign debt investments.
  4. Sovereign debt is also called government debt, public debt, and national debt.

How will BRI trigger this risk?

  1. To understand this effect, the study first uses sovereign credit risk ratings and World Bank debt sustainability analysis to identify 23 of the 68 countries currently at risk of debt distress.
  2. They find that eight countries could potentially face difficulties in servicing their debt includes Pakistan, Djibouti, the Maldives, Laos, Mongolia, Montenegro, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  3. Pakistan, which through the CPEC, serves as the centrepiece of the BRI and is by far the largest country exposed, with China reportedly financing about 80% of its estimated $62 billion debt.

Adhering to global discipline

  1. China’s acquisition of Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port after the Sri Lankan government failed to service its debt is an open fact.
  2. Unlike most of the world’s other major creditors, China is not bound to a set of rules on how it addresses debtor repayment problems.
  3. Currently, China is only an ad hoc participant of the Paris Club, a collection of creditor nations which follow a set of rules in dealing with debtor nations.
  4. The think-tank advocates applying globally-accepted creditor disciplines and standards to the Belt and Road Initiative.

Way Forward: Mitigating Lending Risks

  1. The World Bank and other multilateral banks should increase their participation in the BRI and work with the Chinese government to set the lending standards.
  2. Another recommendation is to establish a new creditor’s group which would maintain the core principles of the Paris Club but with China playing a more meaningful role.
  3. China is also recommended to provide technical and legal support to developing countries.
  4. China should offer debt swap arrangements in support of environmental goals where borrowing country debt is forgiven in exchange for a commitment to an environmental objective, for instance, forest preservation.
Nuclear Energy

India puts four more nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguardsIOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: IAEA

Mains level: India’s role in maintaining nuclear safeguards to a global standards.


More reactors under global watchdog

  1. India has decided to place four more reactors under the IAEA safeguards.
  2. Accordingly, two Russian-designed Pressurized Light Water Reactors and two Pressurized Heavy Reactors being built with Indian technology will be covered.
  3. With this, a total of 26 Indian nuclear facilities will be under the international nuclear energy watchdog.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards

  1. These are a system of inspection and verification of the peaceful uses of nuclear materials as part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  2. It also contributes to nuclear arms control and disarmament, by responding to requests for verification and technical assistance associated with related agreements and arrangements.
  3. The Divisions of Operations are organized as follows:
  • Operations A: conducting safeguards inspections in East Asia and Australasia
  • Operations B: conducting safeguards inspections in the Middle East (Southwest Asia), South Asia, Africa and the Americas; this geographic region also includes non-EU European states
  • Operations C: conducting safeguards inspection in the European Union states, Russia and Central Asia
  • Operations for verification in Iranian Nuclear Deal.
Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

ITU South Asia area office and tech innovation centre to be set up in DelhiIOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ITU

Mains level: Importance of ITU regional centre for India.


  • The global telecom body International Telecommunication Union will set up its local area office for South Asia in the national capital.

Implications for India

  1. The establishment of this ITU local area office will be an important milestone for India.
  2. It signifies global recognition of the progress India has made in the field of ICT.
  3. It also places on the responsibility to work with our neighbouring countries to take the benefits of the rapid developments in this technology-driven industry to our people in the South Asia region.
  4. The ITU South Asia Office will serve nine countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, in addition to the host country.
  5. This local area office will play a key role ITU’s development programs with focus on Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Land-Locked Developed Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and other similarly placed nations in the region.


International Telecommunication Union

  1. ITU is a United Nations specialised agency for Information and Communication Technologies, with membership of 193 countries and nearly 800 private sector entities and academic institutions.
  2. The body freezes international standards on telecom technologies that are to be used globally.
  3. ITU, based in Geneva, Switzerland, is a member of the United Nations Development Group and has 12 regional and area offices in the world.
  4. The ITU coordinates the shared global use of the radio spectrum, promotes international cooperation in assigning satellite orbits, works to improve telecommunication infrastructure in the developing world.
  5. The ITU is active in areas including broadband Internet, latest-generation wireless technologies, aeronautical and maritime navigation, radio astronomy, satellite-based meteorology, convergence in fixed-mobile phone, Internet access, data, voice, TV broadcasting, and next-generation networks.
  6. India has been member of ITU since 1869 and has also been a regular member of the ITU Council since 1952.
G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

[pib] India to participate in G-20, Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting in ArgentinaIOCRPIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies & fora, their structure, mandate.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: G-20

Mains level: Decline of WTO hegemony in global trade and prospects for India.


G-20 Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting

  • Union Minister of Commerce & Industry will participate in the G-20, Trade and Investment Ministerial Meeting, being held in Mar del Plata in Argentina.

Importance of the meet

  1. The meeting will provide an opportunity for a dialogue on current developments in international trade and its implications for the global economy.
  2. Trade and investment must benefit all and countries must jointly address both the opportunities and challenges of globalization, innovation and technological advancements.
  3. India looks forward to work along with other countries to reform WTO and ensure that it continues to be an engine for global trade.
  4. Further, the key issues that will be discussed include global value chains, the new industrial revolution and the international trade outlook.
  5. The multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of protectionist measures by some countries, which is not compatible with the WTO.



  1. G-20 is made up of 19 countries and the EU.
  2. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  3. The other invited members are Chile, Netherlands, Spain and representatives of regional groups of Jamaica, Rwanda, Singapore and Senegal.
  4. G-20 members represent 75% of international trade, half of foreign direct investment flows, half of foreign flows and 80% of global production.
Nobel and other Prizes

[pib] UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) AwardIOCRPIBPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNIATF

Mains level: India’s efforts for prevention and control of NCDs



  • Shri Manoj Jhalani, Additional Secretary & Mission Director (NHM), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has been conferred with the prestigious UNIATF Award for his outstanding contribution towards prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related SDGs.

India’s efforts for prevention and control of NCDs

  1. It is in recognition of Government of India’s efforts made in the field of prevention and control of Non-Communicable Diseases.
  2. National Programme to control NCDs has been scaled up by more than eight times in the past four years and covers all the 36 States/Union Territories now.
  3. The govt. has also initiated population level prevention, control, screening and management initiative in almost 200 districts under NHM which will cover people above 30 years of age.
  4. When fully rolled out, the population-based screening will reach over 500 million adults with health promotion, risk reduction, screening, early detection and management of common NCDs.
  5. Free diagnosis, treatment, follow-up, referral and back referral have been integrated into the program with an IT platform developed through a multi-stakeholder partnership.
  6. The intervention also forms the core of Ayushman Bharat, comprehensive primary health care program.

Addressing multi-sectoral nature of Health issues

  1. The risk factors of NCDs are multi-sectoral and many of the interventions to control these lies outside the health sector.
  2. A National Multi-sectoral Action Plan has been developed which outlines the interventions for different sectors of the Government and other stakeholders.


United Nations Interagency Task Force (UNIATF)

  1. The UNIATF on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases was established by the UN Secretary-General in June 2013 and placed under the leadership of WHO.
  2. It aims to support governments, in particular in low- and middle-income countries, to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease.
  3. Following the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, UNIATF’s scope of work was expanded in 2016 to include “NCD related SDGs” – i.e. mental health, violence and injuries, nutrition, and environmental issues that impact on NCDs.
  4. The World Health Organization acts as a Secretariat and lead for the Task Force.
  5. The UNIATF coordinates the activities of relevant UN organizations and other inter-governmental organizations to support Governments to meet high-level commitments to respond to NCD epidemics worldwide.
  6. The Task Force reports once a year to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Corruption Challenges – Lokpal, POCA, etc

India among nations with ‘no or little enforcement’ against foreign bribery: ReportIOCRPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Exporting Corruption Report, OECD Anti Bribery Convention, UN Convention against Corruption, Prevention of corruption act

Mains level: Prevalence of corruption in India & how to stem its propogation

‘Exporting Corruption Report’ 2018

  1. India is among four countries with “no or little enforcement” mechanism to check foreign bribery, according to a report
  2. The 2018 edition of the ‘Exporting Corruption Report’ was released by anti-corruption organisation Transparency International
  3.  The classification of enforcement is based on the convention countries’ enforcement actions in the period 2014-2017

India included for the first time

  1. In this 2018 report, China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore are classified for the first time
  2. They all have 2 per cent or more of world exports but are not parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
  3. All 4 fall into the lowest level (little or no enforcement)
  4. They are, however, parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, which also calls for enforcement against foreign bribery

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

  1. Officially known as Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions is a convention of the OECD aimed at reducing political corruption and corporate crime in developing countries, by encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the Convention member countries
  2. Its goal is to create a truly level playing field in today’s international business environment
  3. The Convention requires adherents to criminalise acts of offering or giving bribe, but not of soliciting or receiving bribes
  4. Countries that have signed the convention are required to put in place legislation that criminalises the act of bribing a foreign public official
  5. The OECD has no authority to implement the convention but instead monitors implementation by participating countries via its Working Group on Bribery
  6. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was adopted in 1997 to address the supply side of international corruption
  7. There are now 44 parties to the convention, 36 of them members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)

Amendment to Prevention of corruption act

  1. In July 2018, the Indian Parliament passed a bill amending the present Prevention of Corruption Act, which covers bribe payers for the first time
  2. The bill also covers agents, subsidiaries and subcontractors of foreign firms working in India or doing business with Indian entities
  3. The Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act prescribe criminal and civil liability only for domestic corruption